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Five Aside
By ESPN Staff

Atletico players hit by virus

MADRID, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The illness that forced Atletico Madrid to postpone their King's Cup tie with Real Zaragoza on Wednesday could put Sunday's Primera Liga match against Valencia in doubt.

Acute gastro-enteritis struck down at least 14 Atletico players, who suffered from vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhoea during a training camp at the Spanish Football Federation's headquarters in Las Rozas.

'We are falling one by one,' Atletico midfielder Gabi told a news conference on Thursday, after retiring early from the morning's training session.

'Fernando (Torres) and Luis (Perea) went down with it last night and Maxi (Rodriguez) has caught it today.

'We are all suffereing and to continue playing when we are so weak would not be good for us.'

Five players missed training on Thursday with the illness.

The club can appeal for a postponement of the Valencia game if they are unable to field a full first team.

Club medical staff said the problem could have been caused by food poisoning or a viral infection.

Gabi added: 'We have no idea what has caused it. We all ate different things at dinner and even some of those who did not eat that dinner have gone down with it.'

To add to their problems Argentine goalkeeper Leo Franco has flown back to Argentina following the death of his father.

The Spanish football federation said the postponed King's Cup tie agaisnt Zaragoza would be played on Wednesday Jan. 11.

The second leg in Zaragoza is scheduled for Jan. 18.